How to Train a Cat to Use a Scratch Post in 10 Easy Steps
Cats have sharp claws and love to scratch, which means they can do serious damage to your furniture and floors if they don’t have an acceptable object to scratch on instead. Fortunately, you can train your cat to use a scratch post by following these 10 easy steps...
1) Start with the right type of scratch post
There are many different types of cat scratch posts on the market. It's important to purchase one that is appropriate for your pet's size and age. For example, if you have an elderly cat, you'll want to get them a low post so they don't have to jump up high. For kittens or small cats, the post must be tall enough so they can stretch out their full body when they're scratching.
Read more: Best Scratching posts for Cats
2) Place the scratch post in the right location
The first step is to place the scratching post in an appropriate location. The post should be placed where your cat spends time and where it feels comfortable. If you have more than one cat, you may need more than one scratching post. Keep the post away from any furniture that you don't want to be scratched! For example, if you have a favorite chair or sofa, keep the scratching post at least 3 feet away from it so that your cat does not feel tempted to scratch these items instead of the scratchpad. Provide adequate room for stretching: Place the post in an area with at least 2-3 feet of space around it so that your cat can stretch out and work its muscles while clawing.
3) Encourage your cat to use the scratch post
Place the scratching post near where your cat likes to scratch furniture and get used to the scratching post.
Give them treats or play with them near the scratching post.
Put their favorite food or toy on top of the scratching post so that they start associating good things with it.
As they are doing something like climbing on the scratching post, give them lots of praise and petting. This will help encourage their instinct and make them want to do it more often.
4) Reward your cat for using the scratch post
A lot of cats enjoy using a scratch post because it provides an outlet for their need to claw and climb while giving you peace of mind knowing they're not damaging your furniture or other household items. The following steps should help teach your cat how to use the scratch post instead of other surfaces:
Reward your cat with food when they use the scratch post by placing small treats at its base so they associate this area with good things.
Reward your cat with praise when they use the scratch post, saying Good kitty! or Nice job!
Reward your cat by playing a game with them whenever they use the scratch post. You can teach cats to be excited about being scratched on their belly or chin by associating these areas with positive reinforcement like petting and praise; this will make these areas less appealing for them to want to get scratched from elsewhere.
If you have multiple cats then try rewarding one of them specifically for using the scratcher while ignoring any others who may also be scratching it. By doing so, you are reinforcing what behavior you are trying to reinforce and discouraging any other behaviors that might be interfering.
5) Ignore bad scratching behavior
If your cat scratches furniture, you may be tempted to punish it. But this will likely just cause more stress and anxiety for the cat. Instead, there are many ways that you can stop your cat from scratching furniture. A good place to start is by placing a scratch post near the areas where your cat has been scratching and by making sure that it is tall enough for them to use comfortably. You can also try spraying scratching posts with an anti-scratch spray like Wipe Away or keep them away from certain surfaces like carpeting and chairs. In addition, make sure that you provide plenty of scratch posts around the house so that your pet doesn't have any choice but to use those instead of the furniture!
6) Provide additional scratch posts
To train a cat to use a scratch post, you will need one or more additional scratch posts. If you don't have any, try using cardboard from old boxes or even an inexpensive scratching mat. Place the new scratch post next to the old one and gradually move it closer until your cat is comfortable with the idea of using both.
7) Trim your cat's nails
If your cat's nails are long and sharp, trim them every 2-4 weeks. The easiest way is to have a professional do it for you at the vet or groomer, but you can also use clippers from your pet store. To help your cat stay calm, wrap her in a towel while trimming her nails. You can also get them used to the idea by gently rubbing their paws with the clipper blades first.
8) Redirect scratching behavior
One of the most common issues cat owners face is how to stop cats from scratching furniture. Luckily, there are several ways you can train your cat to use a scratching post rather than your couch or chair. It may take some time and patience but it will be worth it for both you and your feline friend. Remember that you want your pet to associate the scratch post with positive feelings and fun. Start by picking up one end of the scratch post while praising them with a good boy/girl! When they start scratching, praise them again and give them treats. Gradually move closer so they have more room to work on their claws before moving away again. Continue this process until they naturally gravitate towards the surface when looking for something else to do.
9) Seek professional help
Many cats will learn on their own how to use a scratch post, but if your cat is exhibiting scratching behavior you want to stop, there are steps you can take. Seek professional help and consider declawing your cat as an option.
10) Be patient
It may take some time, but it is possible to train your cat to use a scratch post. Cats can be stubborn and persistent when it comes to scratching furniture, so you have to be patient and understand that they are going through their learning process.
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